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Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations

  • Big Small Design
  • Leckey
  • IRG Composites
  • Sliderobes
  • Marks
  • Consider It Design

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles

  • Product Designer
  • Product designer/technician
  • Furniture Designer
  • Designer (self-employed)
  • Design Engineer
  • Industrial Designer
  • Head of Design


Design for the future.


This adaptable and unique course is designed primarily for students from either an Art and Design or Technology and Design background who wish to follow careers within the Design Industry specifically in the areas of Product or Furniture design, who wish to teach in either Art and Design or Technology and Design or who wish to undertake further design related studies at Masters or Doctoral level.

The course provides stimulating and challenging practice based design education within a multidisciplinary studio environment with making and prototyping at the core of what it does.

Within the Furniture strand of the course the emphasis is towards Design rather than Craft, making is still seen as very important with model making and materials testing a key part of design development. Workshops offer facilities for the manipulation of soft materials for model making as well as wood, metal and plastics for prototyping.

Practice is informed and underpinned by a strong culture of contextual understanding and critical reflection. Students engage in multidisciplinary work based learning through collaborative projects and industrial placements underpinned by teaching in professional practice, strategic business thinking and entrepreneurship.

The Goal is to produce design graduates who are informed thinkers, fluent communicators and highly skilled makers that have the requisite technical, intellectual, creative and entrepreneurial skill sets to make a meaningful contribution within the context of the creative industries .

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About this course

In this section


The course is based on a modular structure with four modules of study in each year of the three years. Students share a common First Semester with Architecture where they are introduced to the key skill sets and methodologies common to all areas of study. They are given the opportunity to sample short projects from a number of specialist areas before going on to select specialist areas of study in years two and three. At the end of final year of studies, students will have gained a range of design skills and have developed a personal, innovative approach to the practice of designing.

Students are encouraged to undertake group study trips in years One and Two to London and a European destination, respectively. The aim is to broaden their contextual knowledge of design and to undertake a series of industrial and professional study visits to gain insight into professional practice within their chosen discipline.

Student choice is a feature in a number of areas within the course especially at level 5 where students can choose between an optional industrial placement (DPP) or take advantage of the opportunity for international academic study at a number of European or US institutions through the Erasmus and BEI initiatives respectively. Students have the choice to explore a diverse range of specialist subject areas in their final year through self-generated project briefs, learning contracts, choice of dissertation topic and alignment with specialist teaching staff and tutorial/ seminar groups.

Students are encouraged to join the 'Chartered Society of Designers' or 'The Institute of Designers in Ireland' as student members. Full professional membership is gained after required application and folio interviews post final year of the course. A Bursary Prize exists for the best performing student in Year One, whilst First Year students are eligible to apply for the prestigious Dr Gerard O' Hare travel bursary award that funds study related travel between years One and Two of study up to a value of Five thousand pounds. Every year two students from our first year Cohort are awarded the Prize based on a short presentation of their suggested itinerary.

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS

Diploma in Professional Practice International DPPI

Find out more about placement awards


Attendance is largley studio based, four days per week with 15 hours staff contact time and 35 hours self directed study per week.

Start dates

  • September 2018
How to apply


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Space, Form and Making

Year: 1

Space, Form and Making provides an introduction to the methods of exploring and conceptualising three-dimensional and spatial design. Students will develop and demonstrate creative thinking demanded by a variety of design projects. Within the design process students will explore a wide range of ideas towards a final solution, with emphasis on process as well as outcome. Students will have the experience of working in different scales using different thinking processes and materials.

The New and the Modern

Year: 1

This module presents the Bauhaus School as a hothouse of often competing ideas about how design, art and architecture should respond to the challenges of modern society. Students thus consider design within a wide theoretical, historical and social context that enables them to evaluate and respond to discourses past, present and future. It addresses those issues through examining ideas, events, objects and practices. There is a strong emphasis in establishing the rigours of reading, writing and research and visual culture in order to develop the students? ability to express their independent thinking.

Design Skills

Year: 1

Design Skills introduces students to the importance of visual and physical representation within the Industrial Design process from the iterative development of concepts through to communication of finished Designs. Students will explore systems of drawing including freehand and measured perspective, orthographic projection and physical soft modeling in a range of media. Iterative Sketching alternating between 2D and 3D, drawing and modeling, is explored as a key part of the creative process and students are introduced to a range of techniques with the aim of demonstrating creative and appropriate ways of generating and communicating ideas within a creative design process.

Design Methods and Processes

Year: 1

Design Processes introduces students to the concept of a formalised design processes. It explores the tools and methodologies employed within those processes introducing creative strategies for idea generation and problem solving against a contextual background of key issues and drivers that inform contemporary design practice within the fields of Product Design, Industrial Design, Contemporary Furniture Design an the Designer Maker.

Year two

Design Debates

Year: 2

This module engages students in discussions of the issues that underpin contemporary design practice. Students are encouraged to contribute actively their own ideas, theories, opinions on key design issues and to develop intellectual and conceptual tools to challenge and inform their own developing practice. It provides students with the necessary frameworks, methodologies and core skills of writing and presentation in a variety of media formats (video-documentary, journal editing) to undertake the major writing project in their final year. The module builds on and broadens the skills learnt in Level 4 module and introduces new skills to be consolidated In Level 6 module.

Design Communication

Year: 2

Design Communication provides an introduction to the concepts and methodologies of visual communication, graphic design, 3D CAD, CAM, information design, orthography and presentation techniques. Through studio-based practice students are taught the effective communication of ideas using appropriate presentation techniques and output media.

Design Realisation

Year: 2

In Design Realisation students will undertake a series of design projects designed to demonstrate the intrinsic relationship between design intent, scale of manufacture, choice of material and choice of manufacturing process. They are given the opportunity develop an in depth applied understanding of a number of materials and manufacturing processes through live briefs where they have to balance design intent, client brief, commercial and industrial considerations through to a successful outcome. The projects are informed by a series of lectures and Industrial study visits. ?

Design and Commerce

Year: 2

This module involves replicating and practicing the professional skill of design practice to integrate and manage the many complexities of the design process, balancing user needs with commercial requirements in fulfilling a specific design brief. The module provides a valuable learning experience in the development of professional level skills required for visual, written and oral presentation. It also practices communicating ideas, developing design solutions and working with other professionals in an organised and professional way. This module is worth 40 credit points and requires a comprehensive range of course work from concepts through to final designs as illustrated in presentation visuals, technical drawings. PowerPoint presentation, soft models and an supporting business based report.

Year three

Industrial Placement

Year: 3

This module is optional

This is an optional placement year for students who have completed Level 5 prior to the final year of study. The placement must be a minimum of 25 weeks duration and can be in a broad range of Art/Professional practice. A programme of work is agreed by the student, the Placement Tutor and the Placement Partner and usually takes place in Europe with respect to the relevant health and safety and disability regulations.(SENDO). The placement is designed to increase experience of workshop/studio/communal and technical practice, while broadening and enhancing the student?s social, personal and professional development. Upon successful completion of the placement year the student is awarded a Diploma in Professional Studies (DPP) or a Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) International upon graduation from the course.

International Academic Studies

Year: 3

This module is optional

This module provides an opportunity to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Year four

Design Perspectives

Year: 4

This module engages students in developing their skills as individual researchers, reflective practitioners and as dynamic participants in a community of learners. Design history, theory, and practice spans diverse but interrelated disciplines and students will be engaged in critically reflecting and underpinning the interdisiciplinarity of its discourses, thus building an intellectual framework to support their studio practice. Students are supported in the generation and development of a self-directed research project on a topic related to the field of design studies, following historical and theoretical frameworks of enquiry. The module promotes the rigour of reflective and analytical writing at an academic level.

Design and Society

Year: 4

The module provides students with an understanding of design in a societal context and a grounding in the national and global issues which inform, influence and constrain their work whilst also promoting the knowledge and support to realise projects within this complex domain. The module builds on theoretical frameworks of research, specifically `for design? thereby enhancing students? capacity to consider design holistically. Team research and group critiques are effective to peer share wider learning and develop confidence in clarity of presentation. Lectures, seminars and workshops introduce techniques to analyse information and demonstrate appropriative innovative techniques in problem solving. The module provides valuable learning experience in design areas outside the student?s normal experiences and in the skills required to use research as a basis for potential change. The building of competencies in communication skills, creative thinking, analysis and problem solving form a core element of the module.?

Major Project - Research Rationale Portfolio

Year: 4

In this module students question and research a personal design hypothesis and structure and present an illustrated report demonstrating research, analysis, conclusions and critical awareness. This forms the enabling basis of an agreed `project contract?, the brief and rationale for their major project. The module also supports the development of a professional standard portfolio, which can be produced in a number of practice related modes.

Major Project - Design and Realisation

Year: 4

The module provides an opportunity to question and respond to personal design hypothesis in a Major Project brief. It focuses the accumulated knowledge, skills and experience of the student on a project of some complexity. Students apply their creative design and technical skills to the development and realisation of an innovative solution or artifact that has market potential or social implication.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

A level

The A Level requirement for this course is BBB (one of which should be in an art and design related subject).

Applicants can satisfy the requirement for one of the A level grades (or equivalent) by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University.


The BTEC Extended Diploma requirement for this course based on an overall BTEC award profile of DDM to include a minimumof 9 distinctions.

Irish Leaving Certificate

The Irish Leaving Certificate requirement for this course is based on an overall profile of H3, H3, H3, H3, H3 and English Language at grade O4 or above.

Scottish Highers

The Scottish Highers requirement for this course is BBBCC.

Scottish Advanced Highers

The Scottish Advanced Highers requirement for this course is CCC.

International Baccalaureate

Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum 26 points (13 at higher level).

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Successful completion of Access Course with an average of 70%.


GCSE Profile to include English Language at minimum grade C.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Additional Entry Requirements

Submission of a satisfactory portfolio.

Teaching and learning assessment

Product and Furniture Design course is very applied in it’s nature. All of our outcomes will mean the production of physical models and prototypes to justify a solution. The course’s main focus is to enable students to understand and learn the processes, make models, test their ideas, develop core design skills and learn about the culture of Design. The most beneficial way to enable the pedagogy of Design education is to deliver it in a Studio environment. Every student will have their own space to conceptualise, make and deliver their projects under the tutelage of our experience and passionate academic team.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations. Here are some examples:

  • Big Small Design
  • Leckey
  • IRG Composites
  • Sliderobes
  • Marks
  • Consider It Design

Job roles

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:

  • Product Designer
  • Product designer/technician
  • Furniture Designer
  • Designer (self-employed)
  • Design Engineer
  • Industrial Designer
  • Head of Design

Career options

Graduates from the course find employment in areas as diverse as Product Design both consultancy based and corporate, Industrial Design, Vehicle or Transport Design, Furniture Design both as a maker designers and in volume production. Students with an additional PGCE go on to teach both Art and Design and Technology and Design at secondary and tertiary level.

Students who achieve grades of a 2:1 can go on to develop their studies further on taught Masters programmes or research degrees offered within the university as well as throughout the UK and further afield.

Work placement / study abroad

The Product and Furniture Design course offers two options for a year out. This year is sandwiched between Year 2 and 3.

• Option 1: Students have the option to study abroad, in either the USA or at one of our linked Universities across Europe. Successful students that pass the modules taken at the linked University will receive a Diploma on top of their Degree when they Graduate at the end of their Fourth year.

• Option 2: Students have the option to look for placement within a company for 1 year. This must be associated with the discipline of Product or Furniture Design to ensure that the correct experience and learning is achieved. Students find this placement themselves, but full support in identifying appropriate opportunities and preparing for interviews etc is given. A range of Careers Fairs happen in the University to help students link with potential employers. The Year out is assessed and successful students will then receive a further Diploma on top of their Degree when they Graduate after their Fourth year.


All Applications must be via UCAS. We also take successful students directly from the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Ulster University.

How to apply

Start dates

  • September 2018

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (per year)

Important notice - fees information Please note fees displayed are for 2017/18 Academic Entry. Fees are correct at the time of publishing. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
View Ulster University’s 2017 fees policy

Northern Ireland & EU:
England, Scotland & Wales:
£9,000.00  Discounts available - find out more

Additional mandatory costs

Student Product & Furniture Design Materials- Approx £50 per semester (May icrease for Final Major Projects in Final Year)

Student Trips: Approx £250 Year 1 & 2 (Elective)

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.

Please contact the course team for more information.


Mr Martin McGinn

Course Director, BDes Hons Product and Furniture Design.


Student Services Centre

Belfast campus

Tel: +44 (0)28 9536 7202